To call the Westboro "Baptist Church" protestors hyper-fundamentalist hate-mongering bigots is to give hyper-fundamentalist hate-mongering bigots a bad name. These are the folks who hold up the placards reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." They believe that America's moral decline has placed us under God's wrath, and that somebody (Westboro, evidently) has to warn of the coming judgment.
It's one thing for a kook group to claim exclusive rights to the mind of God. What is even more maddening is when those kooks also see themselves as lone voices crying in the wilderness. Make no mistake - they love the hype. They love the role of persecuted prophets.
In all their fury and frothing over sin, they apparently missed quite a bit of the New Testament. They missed 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6. It includes a dirty laundry list of many of the sins the Westboro folks poster-ize: idolatry, sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness and more. But then verse 11 refreshingly says this: "And such were some of you." That's right. According to the Bible, nobody is beyond the grace and mercy of God. Every Christian is an ex-(something). These would-be prophets also seem to have missed the kind words Jesus spoke to prostitutes and criminals, and the contrast with the harsh insults he hurled at hate-peddling Pharisees.
So how should our dear community treat these idiots ... uh, I mean misguided visitors? I say we should love them, or at least lovingly ignore them. Show them actual Christianity. When it comes to building the kingdom of God in Horry Country, these folks don't matter. But how we treat those who don't matter will matter to somebody. People are watching. Let's show them what the love of Christ looks like.
The writer lives in Conway.